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Are browsers wrecking the net?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not against a little contextual advertising in search results. Someone has to pay the piper, if sites aren't going to pay to be indexed.

With both Microsoft and Google (those smart guys somewhere) slugging it out in the browser market with their sights squarely aimed at online advertising it's not hard to guess how much privacy will be available to users of these browsers. Advertisers want as specific consumer data as they can get to feed into their behavioural marketing machine so that they can anticipate your every move and even your mood.

It's clear what users will end up with.

At least with Firefox you have some vestige of privacy, although if Google's browser 'Chrome' doesn't deliver the goods, will acquisition be the backup plan?

I really think that cookies should be opt in.

If you sign up for a site, through an email activated link, the site should be able to give you a cookie, if it's in their terms and conditions.

If you visit a site or see an ad, you should have to choose to accept a cookie. I don't mean throw it up on the screen in a pop-up box, I mean you have to click a button which says something like 'click here to get a cookie'. If you click on an ad maybe they should be able to give you a temporary cookie, so they can collect their fee from the advertiser.

The trick they used in the browser was to allow either cookies or not by choosing a setting in your browser, but if you chose no, or ask me, the web surfing experience was annoying, so most users would give in and accept cookies. You only need so many pop-ups saying this site doesn't work without cookies to get the hint - you're stuck with cookies.

That opened up the floodgates to the point where some individual pages load you up with half a dozen or more cookies with the spin doctors telling you it's to improve your experience. Rubbish. It's to improve the advertiser's ROI.

Will the web end up just a custom morphing behavioural analysis machine optimised to extract every dollar possible from you with the only information you're permitted to see being what is advantageous to the advertisers? Will different people's search results depend on what the behavioural marketing machine decides is the most likely to leads to a sale? Will different 'classes' of people see different results based on their religion, race or sex?

Will it become some sort of tailored localised version of news and reality - so local that it's aimed at just inside your head? Worse than local TV, a narrowed view of the world.

The antithesis of the web.

Who decides? Google? The advertisers?

If you use the one browser+search engine+payment service to buy on the net, then do you really think that every single move you make won't be tracked and sold and most likely stolen? Is that what you expect to pay all that money to your internet provider for - to get an advertiser's guided tour? Which view - Microsoft's, Google, Yahoo? GooHoo, Migoo?

Does it matter?

You could just stay at home and watch TV for that and not have your identity or money stolen. Is there a danger the web is turning into a land of snake oil salesmen, fraudsters, porn sites, gambling, fake friends and whatever else the results of all that behavioural marketing decides it should be?

Isn't it possible to monetise the web some other way?

Perhaps George Orwell got it wrong and it was 2004 not 1984.

 

Is Big Brother Manipulating You Through Your Browser?
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